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“Full moons, gruesome kills, howling; American Werewolf in London brings those pieces of Universal Monsters lore along. But David’s story is one of terror, PTSD that gives him ludicrous dreams of Nazi wolves invading his home, and conversations with his decomposing dead friend Jack (Griffin Dunne). David is losing it.”
Graced by a fine Dolby Vision pass, color improvements make an immediate impression. David’s red coat, which neared oversaturation on Blu-ray, has perfect density on UHD. Improved flesh tones carry better, purer hues. The accuracy is impeccable and gorgeous, renewing American Werewolf in London even when against the already pristine HD disc from Arrow.
Generous shadows bulk up the black levels, mood setting in the extreme. Any crush is intentional/inherent to the cinematography. Dimensionality improves, while peak luminescence stays reserved. Bright, but not drawing too much attention to itself, preserving the style.
Excellent grain replication allows the better resolution room to peek through, facial texture to pop, and other nuanced detail to escape the decades old film stock. Nothing digital interferes, transparency to the source exquisite. Sharpness resolves location city cinematography as well as the forests and/or landscapes. There’s not a speck of dirt or damage to note. The only faults come from optical dissolves, and that can’t be bettered.
Choose between DTS-HD mono and 5.1. Other than for purists, the 5.1 mix expands the soundstage, adding tension to the first attack as snarls swirl around the scene. Panic in the finale spreads wide, with cars, horns, crashes, and more filling each channel. Directionality stretches American Werewolf in London splendidly.
Plus, additional range affords songs some kick, especially “Bad Moon Rising.” A decent beat and sharp lyrics belie the age. Neither track suffers anything other than basic, early ‘80s era coarseness. That’s expected.
Arrow copies their previous loaded release. Two commentaries, one with Paul Davis being new, the other with Noughton and Dunne a holdover, seems extensive, but that’s nothing compared to what’s coming. Mark of the Beast is a new look at the whole of Universal’s werewolf outings, running 77-minutes, and flush with interviews, including John Landis. By extension, a new interview with Landis filmed this year runs a little under 12-minutes. Also, there’s a second older interview with Landis that runs 18-minutes.
A look at some original surviving props runs eight minutes, while a video essay from Jon Spiro (11-minutes) explores American Werewolf in London’s Jewish side. Simon Ward and Corin Hardy chat about how the film affected them for another 11-minutes. Two interviews with Rick Baker combine for 19-minutes.
Beware the Moon is older documentary, some 97-minutes long, also awesome and rightfully included. An early EPK is probably the weakest thing on the disc, but it’s here because a complete set demands it. Some footage from Baker’s workshop as Naughton has his hand molded is great, and an image gallery holds a mammoth archive of stills. Some storyboard comparisons, silent outtakes, and host of marketing offerings bring this easy 5-star disc to its finish.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
An American Werewolf in London
The greatest of all werewolf movies, American Werewolf in London is hilarious, but also a sharp allegory of anxiety and trauma.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 52 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: